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Is Sriracha Healthy: The Little Red Rooster Sauce that Could

This addictive hot red chili sauce continues to take America by storm, but is sriracha hot sauce healthy? Here's a breakdown of sriracha sauce ingredients and the health benefits it can offer as it makes every dish tastier (and spicier)!

Sriracha sauce is flying off the shelves at record rates as this one hidden Asian gem becomes well-known among all cultures as the perfect blend of chili spice, sweetness, and garlic. 

Even Trader Joes and Subway are getting in on the sriracha game because, well, it's what the people want - we buy over 10 million bottles per year from the most popular retailer, Huy Fong Foods. 

Much like Kleenex and other brands before them, their brand has become synonymous with sriracha, which many simply dub "rooster sauce" that decorate Huy Fong's bottles. 

While it's obvious many of us find it delicious, is sriracha a healthy hot sauce?

Let's break down the sriracha nutrition facts to get to the bottom of whether this tasty sauce can offer any nutrition beyond its flavor.  

Sriracha Ingredients

Sriracha sauce starts with a base of sun-ripened chilies, with a few extra additions:

  • Garlic
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Vinegar

It's a pretty simple ingredients list, right? But there are a few ingredients that give rise to some concern. 

Why is sriracha so good?

If you read the book Salt Sugar Fat, you're all too familiar with the phenomena that make us crave more and more sriracha. 

Sriracha tastes so good to us by design - it's another classic play on mixing salt and sugar to make a salty-sweet flavor that's highly addictive to humans. 

Sriracha sauce recipes pair these two flavors with a little acid and some spice, and sriracha is a match made in flavor heaven!

Nutritional Content of Sriracha Sauce

While many of us believe hot sauce is relatively healthy, sriracha's nutrition information looks a little problematic.  

Sriracha calories sit at just 5 kcal per teaspoon serving, making it a pretty low-calorie sauce to enjoy.  

Sriracha Sugar & Sodium

The two ingredients of concern in sriracha sauce are white sugar and salt.

Is sriracha high in sugar?

Yes, sriracha contains quite a bit of hidden sugar, with 1 g per teaspoon. While 1 g of sugar certainly won't kill you, sriracha lovers tend to pile it on almost everything they eat, which quickly adds up to a whole lot of sugar. 

Is sriracha healthier than ketchup?

Sriracha isn't all that much better than ketchup, though it seems to have a better reputation.

Ketchup contains 1.2 g of sugar per serving, which is barely more than the 1 g in sriracha.

Don't let the more acidic taste fool you into thinking it's a healthier option. 

Is sriracha high in sodium?

One teaspoon of sriracha contains 100 mg of sodium, which is relatively high for such a small serving.

Much like its sugar content, sriracha sodium skyrockets quickly when you add a few teaspoons or more to your meals. 

If you're looking for low-sodium sriracha, your best bet is to make your own at home so you can closely control the amount of salt added. 

Health Benefits of Sriracha

Now that we've addressed the drawbacks, you should know that your favorite hot sauce isn't all bad - this spicy chilli sauce contains some real health benefits, and if you have the motivation to eat healthier, you don't have to remove sriracha from your diet.  

Capsaicin: Weight Loss and Mood-Boosting

One of the best sriracha benefits comes from its main ingredient, chili peppers - capsaicin.

The spice from capsaicin helps boost the metabolism, promoting a healthy body weight.

These peppers can also boost endorphins in the body to help regulate the feel-good chemicals in your body, like serotonin.

Garlic

Garlic offers a range of benefits for your body, from promoting healthy cholesterol and blood pressure to boosting immunity. 

The Many Benefits of Chilli Peppers

A few more benefits of eating sriracha chilli sauce include:

  • Improving blood clot absorption rates
  • Helps fight inflammation
  • Aids better blood circulation
  • Good expectorant to fight colds

How to Make Healthy Sriracha at Home 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb red Fresno chilies, coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 c. distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp palm sugar

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients except the sugar in a jar overnight to soften the chili peppers' heat.
  2. Place the pepper mixture and palm sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. 
  3. Lower the burner's heat and simmer the mixture for ~ five mins. Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool to room temperature.
  4. Place the chili mixture in a blender and puree for ~ 5 mins, until the combination is a smooth, orange-red sauce. Run the blended sauce through a strainer and mash out as much juice as possible.
  5. Place the sauce in a jar to cool in the fridge. Once cooled, the sauce should have a similar consistency to store-bought sriracha, but with less salt and a fresher taste.

The Healthiest Sriracha

If you absolutely can't live without your rooster sauce and you usually slather the sriracha on your food, consider cutting back the portions to a few small teaspoons. 

Otherwise, try out a health-filled sriracha recipe like the one above - by keeping the salt and sugar content low, you won't have to worry about portion size as much.

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